Aldi has launched a Fairtrade tea, a move believed to mark the first foray by a British discount grocer into the fair trade products arena.

‘Diplomat’ own-brand tea bags are licensed by the Fairtrade Foundation and were launched as part of Aldi’s weekly special offers, rather than its core lines, which means it may not be given a permanent listing.

At 79p for a 125g box of 50 tea bags, it is cheaper than comparable items at rivals. Tesco, for example, sells 125g packs of Clipper brand Fairtrade tea bags for 99p.

Steve Gotham of consultancy Allegra Strategies said: “This is designed to appeal to a broader, more affluent range of consumers. Aldi is becoming more focused on consumer trends.”

But Simon Wright of O&F Consulting warned that fair trade products might not sit easily with the discounter proposition. To receive Fairtrade licensing, Aldi would pay premium prices to the tea growers. However, if the product was priced too cheaply, customers might not believe this was the case.